§ The MINISTER of HEALTH (Sir Hilton Young)
The number of persons in receipt of poor relief on the 1st January, 1931, included 45,440 widows in receipt of widows' pensions under the Widows', Orphans' and Old Age Contributory Pensions Acts, 1925 and 1929, and 131,257 persons in receipt of old age pensions under the Contributory Pensions Acts or the Old Age Pensions Acts, 1908 to 1924. Separate figures are not available as to the numbers of old age pensioners in receipt of poor relief in each of these two classes.
60. Marquess of HARTINGTON
asked the Minister of Health what has been the total cost of the Widows', Orphans', and Old Age Contributory Pensions Act of 1929 up to date; what additional officials have been required to administer the Act; what has been the administrative cost; and what has been the number of beneficiaries?
§ Sir H. YOUNG
As the answer involves a number of figures I will, with my Noble Friend's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
§ Following is the answer:
§ The administration and the finances of the Contributory Pensions Act, 1929, have not been kept separate from those of the principal Act, so that exact figures cannot be given for the various particulars asked for by my Noble Friend. On the information available, however, it is estimated that: (1) the total cost of the Contributory Pensions Act, 1929, to date, has been approximately £12,000,000: (2) 170 officials are required as a permanent addition to the staff, but in the initial 502 stages of the work the number of officials employed rose to 765 and in addition, the services of certain officers of the outdoor staff of the Customs Department were used in connection with the preliminary investigations of claims; (3) the administrative cost to date has been about £330,000; (4) approximately 370,000 new pensioners have been added as a result of the Act and a number of others, amounting to nearly 40,000, have benefited by the removal of certain restrictions by the Act.
§ 65. Mr. TINKER
asked the Minister of Health if he is in a position to state the number of wives of insured contributors to the National Health Insurance Fund who are over the age of 65 and the husbands under 65 years of age; and will he state if it is the intention of the Government to amend the Widows', Orphans', and Old Age Contributory Pensions Act, so as to give a pension to the wife when she reaches 65 years even though the husband has not reached that age?
§ Sir H. YOUNG
I regret that the information asked for in the first part of the question is not readily available. It could be obtained only by extensive calculations and research and I could not, in present circumstances, justify the expense which would be so incurred. The answer to the second part of the question is in the negative.
§ Sir H. YOUNG
I am glad to be able to assure my hon. Friend that the statement contained in the first part of his question does not, without qualification, correctly describe the position. If the wife of the pensioner is 65 or over, the pension income of the household will be £1, not 10s. a week. Further, though the statement implies that pensioners are required to refrain from remunerative work, the Contributory Pensions Acts do not in fact contain any such requirement. The answer to the second part of the question is in the negative.
§ Mr. MAXTON
Having regard to the very substantial balance that there is in the Old Age Pension Fund, will not the Government consider making an increase in the amount of 10s.?